The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Drink smarter, not harder; a reminder to party responsibly

The weather is getting warmer and more Sonoma State students are heading to the bars. With finals creeping up around the corner, a night out is a good way to destress and have fun with friends, but it is important to remember going out has its risks.

It is inevitable that college students are going to go out and drink, especially in towns like Cotati and Petaluma, where there are multiple bars just down the street from one another. Though these bars are frequented by students, bars are open to the public and anyone over 21 can enter. 

In September the STAR published an article detailing four separate instances of possible druggings happening at bars in and around Sonoma County. Three of the four victims started feeling unwell after their first drink, and all claim the drink was untouched by anyone besides the bartender and themselves. 

 This string of druggings in the area left many concerned for their safety when going out. 

Staying safe should be everybody’s priority, but the more you drink, the lower your inhibitions are, and safety can often take a back seat. News of these potential spikings worried some but students will continue to go out to area bars on a regular basis.

Drugs used to spike drinks are typically odorless, colorless and tasteless. Rohypnol (aka roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known ‘date-rape’ drugs. Symptoms of these include lowered inhibitions, loss of balance, feeling sleepy, visual impairment, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and unconsciousness, according to Drinkaware. 

If you or a friend ever feel more drunk then you should be, or show any of the symptoms above, find someone you can trust and get help right away. In a previous STAR article, Sonoma State’s Chief of Police Nader Oweis advised that, “students should place a lid on their drinks (if they can), never leave any drinks unattended, don’t accept drinks from strangers, and make sure students go out with a group of people they trust. Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings.”

Last April, the Healdsburg Police Department was investigating multiple instances of drinks allegedly being spiked at Duke’s Spirited Cocktails, a local bar. Duke’s took these allegations very seriously and immediately upgraded their security system and hired more security guards for weekends. They also had all staff complete training with the SAFE Bar Network. 

According to their website, “The SAFE Bar Network is a nonprofit focused on partnering with bars and other alcohol-serving venues to create a workplace culture focused on increasing safety and giving everyone a safe night out.”

This nonprofit organization strives to create safe environments and believes that changing the culture at bars is necessary to create these spaces. The SAFE Bar Network has 86 member bars/venues across the United States. 

More of our local bars need to take the initiative to keep customers safe. Duke’s response to the allegations last year is a step in the right direction, but it’s only one bar, and students frequent many bars in the area. 

Spiked drinks aren’t even the only thing to be worried about when having a night out. Whether at a house party or a bar, drugs like xanax, cocaine and percocets may be present. Though the STAR does not encourage students to partake in the use of drugs, we recognize that drug use will happen, and educating and providing accurate information is an important step to keep students safe. 

These drugs can easily be laced with Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be 50 to 100 times more potent than other drugs like heroin and morphine, according to the CDC. Fentanyl is usually added to powdered substances like cocaine, capsules or pressed pills. 

In mid-April, the Petaluma Argus Courier reported that five Sonoma County residents, aged 19-23, were arrested for the suspicion of trafficking fentanyl. It is in our community and we are not immune to it. 

Being aware of your surroundings and what you consume is crucial. 

Narcan, used to treat narcotic overdoses in an emergency, is available for free in the Student Health Center, with only a brief training needed before it’s given out. 

A night out on the town is supposed to be fun and exciting, but the risk of getting your drink spiked or drugs tampered with is unfortunately ever-present in our community. 

Keep yourself and each other safe. Look out for your friends and even strangers. If you see something, say something.

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